Hamilton: 'Hats off to the team for Hungary strategy call'

Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with James Vowles (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Chief Strategist in parc ferme.
© XPB 

Hungarian Grand Prix race winner Lewis Hamilton gave his Mercedes team full credit for their inspired strategy call that helped him to victory at the Hungaroring.

He had been unable to force his way past long time race leader Max Verstappen on track, when the team called him in for an unexpected second pit stop at the end of lap 48.

That put Hamilton over 20s behind Verstappen but crucially on a much faster set of new medium tyres, and he spent the remaining laps of the race hunting down his rival. He finally blasted past him with five laps to spare.

"James, sorry I doubted your strategy," Hamilton said over the team radio on his cool down lap, speaking with race engineer Peter Bonnington and team strategist James Vowles. "That was definitely a tall order but I'm grateful we did it."

"Wow, just wow mate. What a drive!" responded Bonnington. "Only you could make that happen. Awesome work today."

"That was an incredible drive," added Vowles. "Really, really impressive You earned that ... Well done, we knew you had it in you!"

"I definitely wasn't thinking genius!" Hamilton subsequently told Sky Sports F1 when asked what he thought about the strategy call at the time. "Was I thinking 'worth a try' at the time?

"Naturally I have a different viewpoint from the car," he said. "I couldn't compute how that would work if I was really honest [because} I thought I could make the hards go to the end so I knew he would be able to do the same, so I thought: 'Jeez, this is going to be difficult!

"After that I just had to put any doubt out of my mind, and if it didn't work out then it didn't work out. If it hadn't worked out it would have been a little frustrating, because I felt like when I was behind on the hards I thought that I would have multiple opportunities to get by."


Hamilton said he had put his all into claiming his seventh victory at the venue, in an effort to overcome a disappointing performance last weekend in Germany when he was laid low by illness.

"I was really, really so determined to win this race today and recover from the last race. It feels great. You wouldn't believe it because it feels like a first - I don't know how, I've been doing this a long time, but it really feels like one of the first wins.

"I feel tired, which is how it should be," he continued. "But I feel really grateful for the day and the team who continue to push me to the limits and take a chance on me.

"We've been together for seven years, but every win feels brand new," he continued. "The rapport that we have is second to none, and the working relationship we have - the balance, the honesty between everyone - there's no BS between any of the people working together. Everyone's so diligent with how they work.

"After a bad race like the last one there's tears, there's full openness. You don't bottle stuff up and carry it with you. You're able to let it out and move forward and communicate and not feel embarrassed, and let it go. That's so, so key to success - and then just staying united and continue working at what we do.

"I'm so grateful for the team today, and all these years I've been working with them. I can't imagine there will be a working relationship like this anywhere else in years to come."

At times Hamilton had appeared to be held back by worries about his brakes overheating.

“Honestly, we'd had brake problems all weekend. I was a bit worried,” he admitted. “I was actually doing a lot of coasting and not touching the brake for half the lap. I was just trying to save as much as I could."

His best chance to pass Verstappen on track came on lap 39, but he ran off at turn 4 in the process and had to hand the position back.

“It was very difficult to get by [the Red Bull]. Their defence was great. They're quite quick on the straights."

Ten laps later the call came for him to pit, which Hamilton initially had grave doubts would prove successful.

"I honestly didn't know if I could catch that 19-second gap as it's big," Hamilton said of the instructions he received from the team after the stop. “Like the team said: 'just get your head down and keep pushing',"

“The gap closed, and closed, and closed. The laps were like qualifying laps, every lap. Hats off to the team.

"I think if Niki was here, he would take his hat off too.”

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